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Stanford physicists try using science to explain why US elections are broken (are they just centrists still bitter over Trump beating Clinton?)

trump clinton presidential debate
© Getty Images / Pool
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during a 2016 presidential debate.
A pair of Stanford scientists have used physics to explain why American presidential elections since 1970 reflect a society barely holding itself together. Innovative science or study into the biases of the researchers themselves?

The paper, which appeared last week in the journal Nature Physics, is by Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, and Alexander Siegenfeld, a PhD student at MIT. At a glance, it is not obvious what insights into electoral politics physics may offer, although their paper is full of complicated equations and impressive-looking graphs.

But admittedly, the power of physics is that it can reach useful conclusions without necessarily needing all details of the underlying mechanisms. This is how physicists can make accurate predictions of the movement of planets and the mass of atoms, without understanding the fundamental nature of matter in the universe.

Eye 1

Orwellian: Facial recognition to be rolled out across London by police despite a 96% error rate

facial recognition
© PA Media
Only a handful of arrests were made in almost three years of trials but police insist technology is 'fantastic crime-fighting tool'
Police are to start using controversial facial recognition across London, despite concerns over the technology's accuracy and privacy issues.

Eight trials carried out by the Metropolitan Police between 2016 and 2018 resulted in a 96 per cent rate of "false positives", and only eight arrests resulted from a facial recognition match.

Privacy campaigners have vowed to launch new legal challenges against its use and called the move a "serious threat to civil liberties in the UK".

But a senior officer insisted live facial recognition (LFR) was a "fantastic crime-fighting tool".

Assistant commissioner Nick Ephgrave said every deployment would be "bespoke" and target lists of wanted offenders or vulnerable missing people.

Comment: Clearly the technology isn't up to the job and there appears to be little public support, so why the rush?

See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


Bernie Sanders faces ire over Joe Rogan 'endorsement'

Bernie Sanders
© Getty Images
Sanders is the US Senator for Vermont
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is facing a backlash after he touted a thumbs-up from a podcast host loathed by many liberals.

Joe Rogan, a comedian turned provocateur, has told his seven million YouTube subscribers that he would "probably vote for Bernie".

Amid the ensuing outcry, Mr Sanders said his campaign was "a big tent".

Mr Rogan has previously drawn criticism for making what some consider sexist and transphobic comments.

Microscope 2

First case of coronavirus confirmed in Chicago; second case confirmed in US

american airlines ohare chicago
The first case of a new and potentially deadly virus circulating in China has been confirmed in Chicago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The patient, a Chicago woman in her 60s, returned to the United States on Jan. 13 from Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of respiratory illness called the novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019, according to the CDC.

Authorities said the patient remains hospitalized but is in stable condition and doing well. She didn't have symptoms at the time of travel, according to health officials, who declined to say what airline she flew on.


No Entry

Health experts issued an ominous warning about a coronavirus pandemic 3 months ago; simulation showed it could kill 65 million people

wuhan coronavirus outbreak
Eric Toner, a scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, wasn't shocked when news of a mysterious coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, surfaced in early January.

Less than three months earlier, Toner had staged a simulation of a global pandemic involving a coronavirus.

Coronaviruses typically affect the respiratory tract and can lead to illnesses like pneumonia or the common cold. A coronavirus was also responsible for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in China, which affected about 8,000 people and killed 774 in the early 2000s.

Comment: It's funny how there always seems to be a simulation or training exercise surreptitiously on or around the time of an actual crisis. It's almost like someone knows what's coming.

See also:


China reporting 17 new cases of Sars-like mystery virus - UPDATE: Death toll hits 41

coronavirus sars china
© AFP via Getty Images
Staff carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a Sars-like virus are being treated, in Wuhan.
Experts worried about the disease's spread during lunar new year period of mass travel

Chinese authorities are to step up efforts to contain the outbreak of a new virus before the lunar new year holidays amid fears of the bug spreading to other countries.

Health officials in Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak, confirmed 17 new cases of the Sars-like coronavirus on Sunday, including three patients who are said to be in a severe condition.

The new strain has caused alarm because of its connection to severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed more than 750 people globally in 2002-03.

Comment: Update: Virus is spreading. Authorities confirm 136 new cases in 2 days. RT reports:
Health officials in Wuhan, China have revealed that 136 new cases of a mysterious new strain of the coronavirus have been diagnosed over just two days, bringing the total in the city to 198.

In a statement detailing the latest escalation in figures for the major viral outbreak, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said a third person has died from the illness, while two more are in critical condition. A further 33 cases among the newly diagnosed patients are classified as "severe." All of the patients are being kept in isolation.

"The first symptoms were mostly fever, cough or chest tightness, and shortness of breath," the agency said, advising anyone coughing or sneezing to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of germs.

"Pay close attention to symptoms such as fever and cough," they added. "Seek immediate medical attention when such symptoms occur."

Health officials said they've been carrying out medical observations on hundreds of people who came into close contact with those diagnosed to date, and no human-to-human transmission has been found. So far, the outbreak appears to be centered on Wuhan, but a small number of cases have been reported outside of China - two in Thailand and one in Japan.

Infectious disease experts at Imperial College London have calculated that the number of cases in Wuhan alone is approaching 1,700.
Updates 24/01/2020:

Coronavirus infections now at 830 with 26 deaths. WHO doesn't yet consider it a global emergency:
The World Health Organization (WHO) held off designating a new fast-spreading coronavirus as an international health threat, but did deem it a crisis within China, where the pathogen has infected some 830 people and killed 26.

After two days of meetings, WHO determined it was a "bit too early" to label the outbreak an international health emergency on Thursday at a conference in Geneva, despite the rapidly rising disease toll.

"Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding: "It has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one."

China's National Health Commission updated the latest figures on the virus' impact across the country on the heels of the WHO decision, confirming a total of 830 infections and 26 fatalities, with an additional 8,420 "close contacts."

The virus has traveled well beyond its epicenter in Wuhan - a city of 11 million and a major transport hub - claiming its first life outside its point of origin earlier this week. Wuhan itself was locked down on Wednesday, with all travel in and out of the city shut down indefinitely as health officials scramble to contain the outbreak.
In the US, a second case of coronavirus has been confirmed:
A second US case of the deadly pneumonia-like coronavirus has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Chinese woman in her 60s has presented with the illness in Chicago.

The woman flew to Chicago on January 13 from Wuhan, believed to be the source of the outbreak that has so far killed some 26 people and infected at least 800 more. She has had "limited close contacts" since arriving in the city and was not believed to be sick while traveling, the CDC said at a press conference on Friday, adding that she was being kept in isolation at a city hospital.

Another 63 people in 22 states are being investigated as possible coronavirus patients. The first US case was announced on Tuesday in Snohomish County, Washington - a man who returned from Wuhan earlier this month and was hospitalized with pneumonia that turned out to be the virus. Major airports have stepped up screenings in the hope of preventing further spread of the disease.
Another 2 cases suspected in Minnesota:
The two suspected Minnesota cases involve travelers who had visited Wuhan recently. Both have received medical attention but did not need to be hospitalized. They are isolated at home while state health officials await test results from the CDC and reach out to people with whom they have been in contact, said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease program director for the state health department.

"We've identified their contacts, and so we're beginning to follow up with those individuals to see if they have symptoms of illness and to limit their activities" as needed, she said.

At the University of Minnesota, spring semester began Tuesday, with more than 2,200 Chinese international students recently returned from China. While the U said it will work closely with the state health department to monitor any developments, it stressed that there are no confirmed coronavirus cases on any of its campuses, according to a public health alert.
McDonald's closes restaurants in five Chinese cities as coronavirus spreads:
Fast food chain McDonald's has announced it will halt operations in five cities in China's Hubei province, where the new deadly coronavirus is believed to originate. The suspension comes into effect on Friday.

The restaurant chain has dozens of locations in the region, including in the city of Wuhan, which is considered to be the epicenter of the virus.

Apart from Wuhan, where most infections have occurred, McDonalds will close restaurants in Ezhou, Huanggang, Qianjing and Xiantao. The company says that the temporary measure is introduced for "for employee and customer health and safety."

In a statement to RT, McDonald's said that its restaurants operate normally in cities where public transportation is available, unlike the five cities in Hubei province.
In China, authorities announce first cured coronavirus patient:
The Shanghai Municipal Health Commission has confirmed that a patient infected with the deadly coronavirus has, for the first time since the outbreak, been cured and discharged from hospital.

After six days, the patient, a 56-year-old woman identified only as Chen, showed a significant improvement in her respiratory symptoms. Two independent blood tests for the coronavirus came back negative, as did pulmonary CT scans, according to the state-owned Beijing Daily newspaper.

The patient was then released from quarantine following a further examination by experts deployed to tackle the disease.

Chen reportedly lived in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, for many years. She developed fever and fatigue on January 10 and was hospitalized in Shanghai on January 12.
Trump commends China for their quick response to the outbreak:
US President Donald Trump has commended his Chinese counterpart for his country's quick response to a rapidly moving coronavirus outbreak, as additional cases of the illness were confirmed in Europe, Australia and the US.

The fatality count jumped by another 15, to 41 in total by Saturday, with most of the deaths involving elderly patients with pre-existing conditions, all of them in China. The quickly climbing disease toll stands at nearly 1,300 cases nationwide, according to Chinese health officials.

With the second infection confirmed in the US, one in Australia and three more in France, President Trump extended gratitude to Xi Jinping for Beijing's aggressive efforts to contain the new coronavirus - dubbed 2019-nCoV - which include tight travel restrictions for some 20 million citizens across 13 Chinese cities.

Update 25/01/2020:

Chinese doctor on the 'front lines' of outbreak dies from the illness as death toll hits 41:
A 62-year-old doctor helping to beat back a fast-moving coronavirus in China, Liang Wudong, has died of the illness while working at its epicenter in the city of Wuhan, Chinese state media has reported.

The fatality comes as Beijing scrambles to contain the deadly outbreak - which has so far taken some 41 lives in China and infected over 1,300 worldwide - with hundreds of doctors and other healthcare workers calling off their New Year celebrations to race to the virus' point of origin in Wuhan.

A group of 135 medical workers from Guangdong Province penned an open letter earlier this week explaining their motives for running directly into danger, stating "the responsibility of safeguarding our people falls to no others but us."

"We have the experience, and we are ready to go to the front line. When duty calls, we will answer it, and answer it with victory."

Overworked staff in Wuhan have been on around-the-clock shifts, with some doctors seen collapsing from exhaustion amid the aggressive containment effort. Quickly running out of desperately needed supplies - such as surgical masks, scrubs and protective goggles - hospitals across the city have reportedly been relying on public donations between resupplies.


Alabama parents arrested after child fires gun at school

Child with gun
© Getty Images/iStock
The “small firearm” was in the boy’s jacket pocket when it “accidentally discharged” at J. E. Hobbs Elementary School in Camden on Friday morning, a district official said in a statement posted on Facebook.
The parents of an Alabama first-grader were taken into custody after the child accidentally fired a gun at school Friday, officials said.

The incident happened at J.E. Hobbs Elementary School in rural Wilcox County, where District Attorney Michael Jackson said a 6-year-old boy brought a gun to school and the weapon went off.


Botnet operation run by US veteran was set up prior to Bolivian coup: Generated thousands of automated anti-Morales tweets

Anez LaPaz
© Reuters/David Mercado
Bolivian wannabe dictator Jeanine Anez dons the gear in a faux ceremony at the National Police Academy, La Paz, Bolivia, November 2019.
A new report has revealed that the right-wing coup in Bolivia received automated support from a US Army veteran, who retweeted thousands of anti-Morales messages believed to have been written by fake Twitter accounts.

In the days preceding socialist President Evo Morales' decision to step down amid pressure from the military, thousands of new accounts were created on Twitter — with many of them parroting identical messages reading, in English, "Friends from everywhere, in Bolivia there was no coup."

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an estimated 68,000 shady accounts were created as the Bolivia crisis unfolded, all of them sharing 14 hashtags which were either anti-Morales, or in support Luis Fernando Camacho, the right-wing politician who assumed power.

Follow-up analysis by Julian Macías Tovar, a social media coordinator for the Spanish left-wing party Podemos, found that 48,000 accounts were created in a four-day period, and appear to have been used solely to amplify these pro-coup hashtags. Tovar also stumbled upon a single account, operated by US Army veteran Luis Suarez, which had retweeted more than 13,000 messages containing the coup-friendly hashtags. Using a custom-made program to automate his Twitter activity, Suarez allegedly pumped out as many as 69 posts in a single second.

Comment: Exactly the same type of botnet operation was run out of Miami last January to 'amplify' the US govt's attempt to foment a coup in Venezuela:

Social media automation & infowars by the Venezuelan opposition

We've found the 'Russian-meddlers' and he is... US.

Red Flag

Salafist microterritories in France: Some 150 neighbourhoods 'held' by Islamists - report

According to a document classified as a defense secret, some 150 neighbourhoods in France have fallen into the hands of Islamists.
Islamic symbol
The French General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) has just established a map of these territories conquered by Islamism, at the request of Christophe Castaner, formulated after the attack in Villejuif. It is an extremely sensitive subject for the executive, because they do not want to "stigmatize" the Muslim community.

The DGSI is the French domestic security agency. It is charged with counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, countering cybercrime and surveillance of potentially threatening groups, organisations, and social phenomena.

The book by political scientist Bernard Rougier, The Territories Conquered by Islamism, has moved the government to launch a fight against certain community drifts, but they fear being accused of stigmatizing Muslims.

Comment: See also:


Man goes postal in small German town, kills 6 of his own family members

Rot am shooting
German authorities confirmed on Friday that six people were killed in a building in the southwestern town of Rot am See, near Aalen in Baden-Württemberg. Two other victims were being treated in a local hospital, one with life-threatening injuries.

Aalen police told reporters that they believed some or all of the victims were members of the 26-year-old suspect's family. Officers were able to "have a coherent conversation" with him, they said, but still could not ascertain his motive.

Three of the victims were men aged 36, 65 und 69, while the three others were women aged 36, 56 und 62. Two of the victims were reportedly "not locals." The police confirmed that two of the victims were the suspect's parents.